Using digital technologies to support pandemic response on campus: A case study in the opportunities and challenges of WiFi


Gregory Abowd


2020-08-27 12:30:00


Technology Square Research Building

GVU Center Brown Bag Seminar: Using digital technologies to support pandemic response on campus: A case study in the opportunities and challenges of WiFi

Our campus operations were abruptly shut down on March 13, 2020 due to Covid-19, and the campus has not been the same ever since. This has impacted our educational and research mission at Georgia Tech. On the bright side, it has activated a number of collaborative efforts to help Georgia Tech prepare itself for re-opening safely.  Whether or not we are successful this Fall 2020 semester, our efforts now will undoubtedly be useful for the future. Everyone has heard about the practice of contact tracing now, and the mad rush for digital solutions to fight against the spread of infectious disease.  The CampusLife effort in the School of Interactive Computing (Profs. Abowd, Plötz and  De Choudhury) found an opportunity to pivot our research in this direction We are exploring the opportunity to support manual practices of contact tracing with information from the campus wireless network infrastructure. I will give an overview of this effort and report on progress to date.  This is very much a work in progress, but it demonstrates some important lessons for all of the GVU community.  First, solutions to real problems involves lots of different skills sets and perspectives. Second, there is very interesting balance between public health and privacy, a conversation I hope to engage our community as a way of determining potential solutions.

Slides are available for download here <>

Gregory D. Abowd is a Regents’ Professor and J.Z. Liang Chair in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, where he has been on the faculty since 1994. He also serves as an Associate Dean in the College of Computing. An applied computer scientist, Dr. Abowd's research interests concern how the advanced information technologies of mobile, wearable and ubiquitous computing impact our everyday lives when they are seamlessly integrated into our living spaces. Dr. Abowd's work has involved applications as diverse as education (Classroom 2000), home life (The Aware Home) and health (technology and autism, CampusLife). He and his current and former students are active inventors of new sensing and interaction technologies. Since 2015, Dr Abowd has been involved in efforts with other faculty in the School of Interactive Computing to harness passive and active sensing technologies to understand wellness of university students. Dr. Abowd is an ACM Fellow and a member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy.